Essay: Terry & Mike's Big Adventure Terry LaFrance - Basecamp Tue, May 22, 2001 1:20AM
Well it's nice to be breathing some good thick air down at Base Camp at 17,000'. Mike Otis and I arrived yesterday the 21st after a successful summit bid on May 19th. I don't think either of us has yet to fully realize that we pulled it off. Of course we weren't alone. We had the support of four strong Sherpa climbers on summit day. We learned later that the eyes of many at Advance Base Camp at 21,000' and Base Camp were also on us as we navigated the many climbing obstacles the Northeast Ridge of Everest has to offer at over 28,000'.
Leading up to summit day Mike and I had essentially attempted to climb the mountain independently with the help of the many logistical resources that IMG has to offer. But as the summit bid date started to loom, it seemed much more reasonable to combine forces. We arrived at Advance Base Camp on May 12 behind two other strong IMG summit teams. As we waited for our time at bat, poor weather and unsafe climbing conditions stalled all those out front. This didn't give us great optimism for our own chances but after the IMG teams set the groundwork, we felt it was our time to give it a try. After four nights at Advance Base Camp and some lousy weather forecasts, we decided to head up the mountain.
With no one else venturing out, Mike and I climbed toward Camp 5 at 25,600' on the North Ridge. That day seemed to be our crux day with winds reaching levels that made both of question our desire to push on. We reached Camp 5 very thankful to immediately plug into oxygen. We knew we had gotten past a major obstacle when two Sherpa climbers on our summit team arrived with frosty faces and breathlessly stating their concern with the wind strength. Heading off the North Ridge the following day toward Camp 6 at 26,900' proved much more reasonable since we were able to soon leave the winds behind as we traversed towards the North Face.
At 1:45 am on the 19th we crawled out of our tents to group together for the climb toward the Yellow Band. At first I saw light snowflakes falling and looked up in concern. To my amazement the sky was lit with stars. I took this as a good sign.
Except for some rockfall at the third rock step that almost hit Mike (I tried to warn him), and I apologized later profusely, we all had a great day. ...Although at several moments I thought I felt moisture in the lower regions of my down suit, especially on several of the downward sloping rock traverses.
We summited at 10:00am and were all grateful to have a beautiful view of the world below. The descent which obviously gave us all some concern proved uneventful and with the weather now our friend, we made a quick downward climb toward Camp 6.
Back at Base Camp, summit day is already turning into a blur. But one thing holds true for Mike and I. We're grateful toward the IMG crew that gave us this opportunity and all those at home who shared in our climbing Mt. Everest.